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Page 1:
Bionic Commando (Arcade)
Bionic Commando (NES)

Page 2:
Bionic Commando (Game Boy)
Bionic Commando: Elite Forces

Page 3:
Bionic Commando Rearmed

Page 4:
Bionic Commando (2009)

Page 5:
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2

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Bionic Commando Rearmed / Bionic Commando: Master-D Fukkatsu Keikaku - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Mobile (2008)

Soundtrack Cover

With the series languishing for nearly a decade after the somewhat flat Elite Forces, Capcom focused on their more popular series and explored new projects in the meantime. They had decided for a while to be progressive and put the series that made them famous to the wayside, alienating some of their longtime fans by letting the past be. Then, in 2008, Capcom suddenly decided to reach back into their vaults and bring their action classics back into the light again for a new generation to enjoy. With the announcements of overhead shooters Commando and 1942 being released on the XBOX Live Arcade and PlayStation Network game download service, old-school gamers were eager to enjoy them. Lamentably, both games were kinda average and have placed doubt in the hearts of gamers looking to a glorious revival. Regardless, the fact that Capcom dispelled rumors of ignoring their classic titles warmed the hearts of jaded veterans everywhere.

Said hearts were on fire when the incredibly long overdue resurrection of Bionic Commando would arrive with a dual-pronged assault on the game market. It has been a massive span of twenty years since BC was released for the NES, and it has not received a proper sequel in all that time. The Game Boy title was more of a retelling of the NES game, and Elite Forces was not anywhere near the spirit or quality of the original to be considered a worthy follow-up. However, on its 20th anniversary (not counting the arcade game, which, let's admit, is rather dated), Bionic Commando would officially be sequelized on the PS3 and XBOX 360, brought into the world of three dimensions akin to how Tecmo brought Rygar and Ninja Gaiden back from the ashes.

It's just not enough to resurrect the series, so Swedish development team GRIN and American-born Capcom of Japan producer Ben Judd decided to treat longtime fans of the original with Bionic Commando Rearmed, a fantastic revival of a treasured NES favorite. Unlike the GB Bionic Commando, which had all new stages and a few new bosses but kept all of the items the same, BCR does the opposite: It keeps the basic structure of the NES original, but adds all new weapons, alters the gameplay significantly, includes many new features to appeal to gamers old and new, and delivers one of the most impressive 2D packages programmed in the latest decade.

The basic premise is unchanged from the NES game, but the story has been expanded by a great deal. On paper, it's the same as the original, with the Federation (now known as the FSA: The Federal States of America) fighting against the Imperials, who have discovered the Albatross project from the original Badd/Nazi architects. Super Joe has been captured, and it's up to Radd Spencer, the FSA's Bionic Commando, to bail Joe out and halt the nefarious Imperial Generalissimo Killt's ploy to revive the Albatross, just as we remember. However, by simply revising the text and building on the dialogue, the story feels as different as it does familiar. For example, instead of waiting until all the way into Area 7 to finally speak, Radd (now given the first name Nathan, with "Rad" as a nickname, as well as a redesign that gives him a less ridiculous haircut), speaks immediately at the start with his chopper pilot, Haley. Spencer has far more of a personality now, coming off as the awesomely typical action hero who talks the best of jive to his enemies. For example, a delightful exchange against a war machine pisses Spencer off to issue the ultimatum: "Next stop: The Junkyard. Population: You!"

Some details have been subtly altered, such as the Neutral Areas now turned into FSA camps that only house their own soldiers instead of allowing both sides to enter. Although this means that soldiers no longer step in to a seizurerific appearance when you fire a shot, I'm willing to forgive this little overlook of nostalgia in lieu of the quips which your fellow soldiers exchange at the camps, particularly the goofball who conceives the brilliant notion of a gun that strings together lightning. Communications with allies are less jangled with typos, and pirated talk sessions with the enemies are simply hilarious, even making in-jokes to please longtime fans, including appearances of the "get out of here, you nerd!" and "about to explod" lines. One area even warns the player to wear hard hats, and includes a pixellated image of a Met, the ubiquitous hard hat wearing bad guys from Mega Man. Each sentence spoken makes a point well-known: BCR never takes itself too seriously, and this is why it rules. It presents a smooth and appealing surface that remains consistent beneath the crust, mantle, and core. Even if you've bought the game, the demo is definitely worth trying out just to see some of the wacky dialogue, with friendly soldiers yelling at you to buy the full game.

Bionic Commando Rearmed

The game's visual style is not entirely dissimilar to Contra: Shattered Soldier. It plays entirely in 2D, but every single thing modeled in the game is 3D, running at a silky smooth 60 frames per second. Discount the expected cries of "WTF NO SPRITES" and recognize that the game's visual style should have no bearing on the mechanics. Getting that out of the way, this is as great as a 2D title can look in not-2D. All areas are rendered with their own individual persona, with each area now looking more distinguishable than ever before. The lighting in particular is fantastic, and although it's a bit too dark at times, it's still fantastic for the mood. Previously absent details now add to the feel of each environment, such as falling snow in Area 3 to compliment what was once snow-capped grass (which is now snow-engulfed tundra) and a cityscape in the background of Area 6 behind very large battleships. In the few areas where you need to use flares, the whole screen is dark except for a small patch of glowing red light surrounding your character, which is much cooler looking than the NES game. Perhaps even more impressive than the level designs are the characters and their appropriate animations. The smallest quirks, such as Radd nodding his head towards the camera after he lands from his parachute, or enemy soldiers' bodies hanging around for several seconds before plummeting off the screen for no good reason, add that sort of detail that's impossible to dislike. The move to a widescreen presentation allows for a much wider, zoomed out field of view, which makes it easier to see what you're supposed to be swinging towards. The whipped topping to this game's hot fudge sundae-style presentation is Shinkiro, legendary SNK-turned-Capcom artist, who has provided character portraits for all of the main characters in the dialogue scenes. If you are, he upholds his status quo of quality and really adds more personality to the characters just by depicting their expressions. The best is Radd shouting and dramatically pointing his arm outwards, ready to kick serious ass.

All of the game's original music is kept intact, and the project's director, Simon Viklund, decided to remix the hell out of them to create a fine aural treat. The best description for the style is "steady techno beats with a decidable old-school flavor." The general pace of each piece is decidedly slower and more methodical than their originals, with the percussive beats heavily emphasized. All tracks are in their respective places from the original game, with the notable exception of the overhead enemy assault phases. Even cooler, there are some "prelude" areas - like the opening screen before you enter a base, or when you're entering into a boss' room - where you can hear the thumping bass of the music, but not the actual melody. It makes it sound like you're at the doorway of the most awesomest dance rave. Interestingly enough, the music used here is a rendition of the original Commando theme, factoring in what sounds like Rob Hubbard's Commodore 64 rendition. It's all very well done, updating the classics while still keeping the spirit of Gondamin's initial compositions.

Now you are likely to wonder what exactly sets Bionic Commando Rearmed apart from the original besides updated graphics and music. The basest of basics has not changed - you still fly your helicopter from level to level, you still discover items after each stage to aid your adventure, you still cannot jump and use your bionic arm to swing from platform to platform. Just about everything is altered so as to place Bionic Commando Rearmed directly on that fine line between a rehash and something entirely far-removed from its predecessor. For starters, the action is more intense than ever before. This time around, the arm mechanics are more fluid and easier to control, on the level of the Game Boy Bionic Commando and perhaps even more reliable than that. It is very possible to pull yourself straight up then immediately shoot out the arm diagonally to swing from the same platform, and entirely new to Bionic Commando Rearmed is the ability to fire out the arm straight out horizontally in midair. This makes it easier to attach to platforms where a little more distance is required to make it a safe grab. Additionally, the arm is now more of an offensive and defensive tool - you can still stun enemies and intercept enemy bullets - the latter especially being a vital technique at the higher difficulty levels - as well as pick up barrels, use them to block, and toss them for what is often an instant kill if they hit a soldier.

Radd's arm is not the only object in the game to improve. Many of the game's items have been updated, and the arsenal is far more balanced than in the original. However, the bullets that you can collect from enemies in order to extend your lifebar are now gone in place of a simpler health system tailored to downplay tedious collection. Instead of starting off the game only able to take a measly hit, Radd kicks off his mission with a well-developed health bar that takes varying amounts of life loss depending on the type of attack that hits him. Enemies randomly drop small or large green spheres that recover health, as well as blue spheres that increase the player's score. Naturally, blues drop more frequently when Radd's health is full. Abiding by Rolling Thunder rules, no health is lost if Radd simply touches another enemy, though there are a few exceptions to this occurrence. Unlike the NES game, continues are unlimited and do not need to pick up any from the overhead stages. They are replaced by more extra lives, which are also stowed away in camps and hidden in every stage. While the more lenient allowance of lives may seem to soften the difficulty, you will be very glad that they are where they are.

The items and weapons are far more user-friendly because you can now bring ALL of them with you into each stage. No longer do you have to make a choice among the four categories of weapons, armor, items, and communicators (now sleek communication computer chips instead of clunky radios). Nearly all of the latter three categories are still intact, with the exception of the rapid-fire magazine, an admittedly worthless item that not too many will miss. Once you get them, you always carry the flares, iron boots, permit, and medicine, so no need to leave behind one in order to take the other. This makes the iron boots more useful (and it's always fun to kill enemies just by swinging into them), as most gamers in the original would usually bring along the health recovery medicine. With the new health system, the medicine simply acts as a lifebar extension, which is still a great thing to have.

The three pieces of armor each count for an individual hit instead of the strongest one making the lesser armor obsolete. What was formerly the pendant has oddly been altered into the shin guards (which appear more to be slacks for some strange reason), and the helmet and body armor are still intact. You can only sustain one free attack with one piece, but collecting two absorbs two hits, and all three pieces mean you can take three hits without any penalty to your lifebar. This time around, they block all types of attacks instead of just enemy bullets. However, they only work for a single life, so if you think you lost all three too soon in the mission, you can easily call for extraction in the pause menu to abort and retry if you think you will fail without them. Extraction this way is slightly more user-friendly than aborting the level by pressing A, B, Select, and Start, but not quite as user-friendly as how communicators are handled. You can carry all four chips with you at a time (three areas for each single chip), and if you don't have an area's appropriate chip, you aren't led into the stage only to be met with "GA GA GA" if you brought the wrong one. You simply are not allowed to enter a stage at all until you get the chip from the appropriate FSA camp.

Bionic Commando Rearmed

Regarding the matter of communication, its basic premise is still the same as before, where you contact your home base to receive information (and witness some amusing conversations between Radd and soldiers). As before, the option to invade the enemy's privacy is present, but not quite as before. The option is specifically listed as "Hack Enemy Network," and instead of wire-tapping air waves, you invade Imperial cyber-space to listen in. This requires some effort via a brief minigame, often not too difficult but can be a bit overwhelming at first. You are represented by a yellow ball within a large six-sided 3D playing field, with several red cubes, a single green cube, and sometimes, a pair of blue cubes. You launch the ball with the fire button, spinning around the big cube to set up the direction of where your ball goes next. The ball always travels to the far back side of the camera's current perspective. Your objective is to shoot the ball from red cube to red cube and eventually have it reach the green cube, which breaks you into the enemy network. Sometimes, you will have blue cubes which act as teleporters, where you shoot the ball into one blue cube and it moves out of the other in the same direction. Anyway, should you succeed, two things happen. A: You receive very valuable enemy information, which is almost usually regarding the weakpoint of the stage boss, and B: You receive several score and health orbs, the latter of which can be really useful if you've taken a lot of punishment. If you fail the game, enemies don't paratroop in to a sudden alarm. If you fail here, you set off alarms throughout the stage above where seemingly decorative doors reside. The doors keep opening to dog you with a constant flow of soldiers, which is indeed good motivation to try and not blow hacking jobs.

Of course, the most fascinating of all items are the weapons, and the arsenal is very different compared to previous games. For starters, you carry all weapons with you at all times and can cycle through them (save for two, one of which is assigned its own button and the other being an internal improvement to the Bionic Arm). The nigh-worthless Wide Cannon and lamentably underpowered 3-Way Shot have been scrapped entirely, while the other three have been altered alongside the introduction of five new weapons. Radd's base gun is no longer a standard rifle, but a modified Revolver, capable of firing out standard shots good for most normal enemies. It has not been altered too much from the original game, though the shots seem to travel a slight bit slower. The Bazooka, formerly the most overpowered weapon from the original, is still a great destructor despite three alterations that tone it down by a fair deal. 1: Each rocket fired travels oddly, taking a slight dip before flying at a minor upward angle, making it a bit harder to hit things. 2: The rocket explodes upon impact, making it only possible to hit one enemy in a straight line (though splash damage can hurt enemies close by to the direct target). 3 (and the most damning): Using the Bazooka at point-blank range will kill Radd, or at least cause big damage if he's really close to his target. Although it's still a great weapon that obliterates most enemies in one hit, it has to be utilized with far more caution this time around. However, the alteration made to Joe's Machinegun is a significant upgrade, turning it into an actual machinegun that blasts out bullets at an obscenely high rate straight across the screen. It does carry the setback of being the only weapon requiring a reload (for approximately every three second of continuous fire), but it's still an improvement over the somewhat weak gun from the original.

The new weapons all fit in well to the fold, with the Grenades being particularly welcome. There is no need to cycle through to Grenades, instead being assigned their own button for attack. These versatile explosives can be tossed over enemy cover, given extra distance by holding forward, lobbed from above when hanging from a ledge, and tossed straight down to give enemies directly below Radd a nasty surprise. Oddly enough, explosions from Grenades do nothing to Radd, whereas an up-close Bazooka blast does far worse than nothing. Among the three new firearms is the Plasma Rifle, which fires out lasers at a rate and speed faster than the Revolver, but with each shot doing less damage than a Revolver bullet. The Shotgun is naturally used only for close-quarter combat, and while its use is a bit limited as a result (as enemies will often engage you from afar when possible), it's still damn fun to have and actually has a useful trick: If the Shotgun is fired while hanging onto a ledge without swinging, the kickback of the blast will cause Radd to get into swing mode. The interesting Vector Cannon shoots out indirect lasers that travel at an angle and bounce off of surfaces (akin to the blue laser weapon of R-Type yore), doing more damage if it bounces off something first and also useful for hitting enemies at higher ground. There is an interesting element behind the weapons: Bullet weapons (Revolver and Shotgun) do more damage to humans, laser weapons (Plasma Rifle and Vector Cannon) deal more pain to machines, and explosives (Grenades, Bazooka) and Joe's Machinegun deals top maiming to everything. A red flash for a hit indicates good damage being done, while a yellow glow tells you that a more effective weapon could be used.

It's a bit hard to classify the last new weapon, as it's really more of an enhancement that makes the Bionic Arm more deadly than before. The Power Claw makes the arm into a more deadly machine than ever before. Without it, Radd can still pick up barrels and throw them at enemies as previously mentioned. With the Power Claw's addition, Radd can pick up enemy soldiers and throw them at other soldiers or use their unfortunate bodies as human shields! It's instant death for soldiers who are grabbed and subsequently thrown, and since the arm travels faster than most other weapons, this becomes a useful ability for tough situations. It is said that enemies can only be hit so many times before they become worthless and are automatically discarded, but they somehow have a really high punishment limit to their own bullets. However, there is an annoying delay after an enemy is tossed that leaves Radd completely invulnerable.

Although each weapon is reasonably powerful in its own right, they all can be made better through upgrades which are hidden off of the beaten path in some levels (save for the Power Claw which is essentially an upgrade for the arm). The Revolver upgrade enables you to fire three bullets at a time instead of two, and while this might not sound like much, this simple boost of firing rate is very helpful in the early stages and appreciated throughout the game. Same deal for the Grenades: You can toss two instead of waiting for one to explode before chucking another. For non-Physics majors like me who often have trouble throwing accurately, this is a useful commodity. The upgraded Plasma Rifle has a rate of fire so fast that it borders on semi-automatic. It also has the added benefit of a Mega Man-esque charge shot when holding the fire button down that outright wrecks most non-boss machines. The Shotgun update increases its power and range of fire, and this may just be me, but it improves the firing rate as well. The enhanced Vector Cannon blasts out two simultaneous lasers, the second one traveling at a different angle than the first. Joe's Machinegun's upgrade allows you to fire more bullets before reloading, but it was initially bugged so it was hard to see the difference.

Now you might be wondering where they could conceivably hide these secret upgrades in each level, particularly if you have played the original a lot of times. The FSA camps are completely different compared to the neutral areas, but the basic structure of the twelve action stages is mostly unchanged (though the enemy and trap placement in some levels is altered from the NES game). That does not mean they are exactly the same; on the contrary, there are subtle expansions to each level filled with hidden items. Some are the aforementioned upgrades, some are secret challenge races, and everything that is not either of the formerly-mentioned is one of twelve tokens taking on the guise of a classic Capcom Yashichi. Some of these secrets can be particularly tricky to find, but thankfully, there is a new item known as the Secret Dossier that denotes whenever you are close to finding a hidden area. There are a few subtle changes in the overall game hierarchy, such as obtaining the item from Area 6 being a mandatory prerequisite to enter Area 3, Area 19 now no longer being a worthless area only containing a couple of enemies that break the rules and attack you, the Secret Tunnels now being incredibly vexing platforming sections instead of overhead sequences, and perhaps most amusing of all, Area 0 can now be entered! Area 0 houses a tutorial room for basic and advanced maneuvers (which can also be accessed from the starting menu), and the Revolver upgrade to immediately boost your firepower.

All of these new weapons will be very useful indeed, as while Radd's learned some new tricks, so have the Imperials. This is some of the best programmed artificial intelligence in a 2D action title. For starters, they no longer take one shot from your first weapon. Almost every enemy in this game now takes several hits, so it pays to have the appropriate weapon on hand to take them out. The basic soldiers in the game slowly pace around until you get near them, whence they go into combat mode, retreat from you, and take shots from afar. The cover soldiers from the original who hid behind barrels until you got behind and subsequently killed them are no longer dummies. When you get to their side, they jump over their cover and stow away on the other end, doing so again if you try and get behind them. Heavy weapon soldiers now have bazookas almost as damaging as yours, as well as having the ability to toss grenades. Close-combat soldiers now idly pause until you get in their line of sight, whence they rush you with increasing speed and take a LOT of life away with their knife. Shield soldiers are significantly more common in this game (as opposed to only showing up in area 8 from the original), and while their shields can be destroyed now, they're still bastards. Bomb experts toss their explosives farther and can take lots of punishment, but they can be killed instantly if their bomb backpack is somehow hit. Those bloody annoying ceiling-wire soldiers are even more obnoxious this time around, firing diagonally down at you when hanging on above. The fly droid operators are no longer sitting ducks, and while they move around slowly, it's better than not moving at all. They seem to deliberately program their machines to intercept your shots and make your life a royal pain.

Speaking of machines, there are more mechanical enemies this time around. The dwarfs that used to pilot mobile cranes have been eschewed for entirely automated tanks, and when you destroy them, they drop mini droids, a somewhat uncommon enemy from the original game that receives more exposure this time around. (The dwarves themselves still show up piloting boss machinery - the new plot actually devises that the army uses midgets because of their low weight.) In addition to firing shots from afar and forcing you to crouch to hit them, they can now launch grenades and push you away with a magnetic burst. Ceiling and wall cannons fire off shots in timed intervals, and these can fire up to five bullets simultaneously. The aforementioned fly droids technically count as their own enemy, and while they only take one hit from anything (including your Bionic Arm), they can be damn hard to hit, dashing around through the air in changing speeds and directions. Oddly enough, a couple of enemies from the original have been replaced with automated destructors. Flying cannons replace the helicopter soldiers in Area 5, floating around and raining down laser beams while moving horizontally. The heavy soldiers in Area 6 that tossed spiked balls are now barrel-heaving robots that toss non-lethal but still annoying blue barrels to intercept you.

There are a few enemies from the original that did not make it to the new generation (such as the odd mutant spiders and moths from Area 3. plus the giant Venus fly traps have been replaced with standard bear traps), but their omission can be forgiven when the concept of the boss battle has been greatly improved for the new generation. In the old game, you were faced with either an infinite platoon of regular soldiers amongst some special enemies, or you dealt with a stronger-than-normal opponent that impeded your progress. However, these forces served merely as guardians to an energy core which could be very easily obliterated in three to five rocket shots. While they were good for the time, one would hope that the fights would be well-updated for Bionic Commando Rearmed. Well, it did just that and then some. Some bosses have returned, while others are entirely new and rather impressive to behold in action. All bosses require many uses out of your Bionic Arm, some of which you may have never considered before.

The classic hovering robot defense mech that would announce "Pi Pi Pi" before commencing the battle is now the guardian of the first area, known as the D-1 Beetle. It blasts at you with its machine gun and tries to crush you beneath its heft while rejecting your bullets with its hard outer exterior, making it immediately more difficult that most bosses from the original. Another mainstay in the form of the many infinite enemy platoons is brought back in a frightening form: A gauntlet of limitless soldiers along with several varieties of special enemy types set in a narrow room. This leads up to the main room with the 1st Platoon Commander, who is hard to shoot, as the many war medals he wears acts as a long-standing bulletproof shield. He actually attacks you with a saber if you get too close, and he's flanked by several doors of infinite soldiers. As for new bosses, the Siege Machine, a towering grenade-blasting deconstruction vehicle that constantly rams forward to crush you. It can be rather difficult to figure out how to beat at first - you need to unscrew some bolts on its front, but they're hard to see. If you unscrew all of them, you can actually cause the pilot to smash against the wall and eject him from his seat, killing him instantly. The Fabricator, a massive semi-circular device designed for robot production, keeps you trapped in place and stabs you with its assembly arms. The Power Pod, a floating energy conductor and grand-scale power source, channels its energy to zap you in the form of concentrated beams. It also has an infinite supply of Fly Droids en masse, an obnoxious assault to be sure.

Now some of these bosses are repeated, but not totally rehashed, as their reappearance includes a twist that makes them far more difficult than their predecessor. It may feel as if GRIN got a bit lazy with refurbishing the bosses instead of making new ones, but it's still a big improvement over the original. Besides, one of the bosses is so unique that it's hard to determine if he's old or new. The concept of the Giant Soldier (the hulking bionic boss that would slam you into him with his three Bionic Arms) has been entirely redesigned to make him a bit less giant and a lot more cunning. Named Gottfried Groeder, the Imperial Champion, he only has one Bionic Arm and puts it to as good use as Radd makes of it. Swinging around and blasting you with large energy shots from anywhere in the room, Groeder is one of the few antagonists in the game that can harm you merely by touching you.

In regards to the end of the game, Area 12 is very different from its NES incarnation. The energy rooms are different, requiring you to pull a switch in rooms filled with turrets instead of destroying a core. The stage itself is mostly similar aside from that, and anyone who's played the original will know that Generalissimo Killt is offed by the man he resurrects. Originally Hitler then changed to Master-D for the American release, he is now given the more straightforward moniker of "The Leader." (In Japan, however, his name is still "Master D" - the translated title is "The Resurrection Plan of Master-D.") While censorship is more attentive nowadays, they still manage to get his mustache by through the veil of a breathing mask, and with a skin tone that seems a lot more fitting for a long-dead man, he actually looks more menacing than from the original. He talks smack, calls you a "damn fool," and threatens you with the power of the Albatross. This is all standard procedure right until the entire base rumbles to make way for something scary. The Albatross rises from the depths of the Imperial fortress and takes its place in the sky; not as a giant laser cannon, but as a titanic floating fortress of death that serves not as the final boss, but the entire final stage.

The developers probably took a cue from the Game Boy Bionic Commando from this one, in which the Albatross was the entire final level from there. However, that Albatross is entirely different from this one, creating an entirely original final challenge that will daunt the best of gamers. While it spares the ungodly "swing below the jet thrusters" bit, it's still really evil in its own right. For starters, it's easily the longest level in the game, so bring some extra lives in case you die at the last bit. You have to brave yourself through three rooms constructed with a specific hazard in mind; one with mechanical cylinders, another with poison gas leaks, and the last with electric beams. Afterwards, you have to survive an infuriating set of flipping platforms (somewhat like those disappearing blocks from the Mega Man series), made worse by turrets that can be hard to hit, and the general fact that everything is so dark that it's hard to determine your destination. Then you have to deal with many enemies, human and mechanical, over a lengthy section that eventually takes you to the top of the Albatross. In classic super-evil fashion, the sky is dark and rife with lightning, and you can tell something bad will happen here. Haley shows up to see how you're doing when her chopper is unceremoniously blown to shit with a missile. She dies, but not before giving you the Bazooka upgrade, which allows you to control your rockets manually. It's too bad you don't get this until the end of the game, as it's fun to go back and destroy everything with long-range controlled missiles. Also, note Haley's first three letters of her name, her situation, and what she gives you. She is Bionic Commando Rearmed's rendition of Hal, the dying soldier who gave you the Hyper Bazooka needed to ultimately kill Hitler/Master-D/The Leader/A very bad guy. And that's just what you're going to do next with the rage seething up inside.

Instead of The Leader's Chopper being an escape vehicle, it's a war machine intended to squash biomechanical fleas such as yourself. This is not just a simple "hit or miss" situation anymore; this is now a full-fledged boss fight, and it is rough. The bastard hangs in the background and either fires a myriad of missiles or blasts you with dual sweeping laser beams. You have to guide a controlled rocket into the cockpit window; hitting any other part does no good, and the Vulcan tears your rockets to shrapnel. You have to do this a certain amount of times depending on the difficulty (if his weapons have not yet disintegrated you), but the last shot that ultimately finishes him off leads to... the explosion.

Yeah, everyone knows it by now. Hitler's head explodes as you blow up his Chopper, a bold act of censorship defiance. For 1988, it was gruesome, shocking, and just plain awesome, still standing as all three today. It seems like there's a bit of an inspiration from Wolfenstein 3D, showing a close-up of his cranium bursting (and splatter on the camera), then zooming in and repeating it, akin as how he died by the barrel of B.J. Blaczkowicz. However, the programmers go the extra mile by depicting the explosion a third time, courtesy of Shinkiro detailing the event in all of its detailed gory... erm, glory. This game received an M-rating, and it is very light on foul language, sexual references, and any sort of graphic violence save for this one moment, lasting only about ten seconds, where it suddenly justifies its ESRB nomenclature. All that risk of alienating younger gamers with an M-rating could not have been done for any other reason besides factoring in this scene, this ont scene, just for the sake of fanservice. To be frank, the length that GRIN went to bring in this revived slice of sanguine nostalgia is astounding, and it really proves that Bionic Commando Rearmed is a game for the fans of Bionic Commando, and in a larger sense, old-school gamers in general. It's sad that this scene was censored for the Japanese and certain European releases, because it makes the brutal final level all worthwhile.

Bionic Commando Rearmed offers four different difficulty levels: Easy for beginners, Normal as the standard for BC veterans, Hard for confident players, and once you've beaten the game once on any difficulty, Super Hard becomes unlocked. The easier difficulty levels actually have transparent blocks in certain areas to aid in some of the more difficult swinging segments. On the other hand, saying that Super Hard is difficult is like stating that Ann Coulter is a direct descendant of Jezebel. On Hard, enemies take more abuse, soldiers fire diagonally upwards and toss down grenades, close-range rushers are lethal if they catch you, the barrel-tossing robots throw red barrels that harm you very badly on impact, those damn stationary cannons fire at an increased rate, your moves in the hacking game are on a time limit, and among other things, you can die in three hits. On Super Hard, you die in two. And it keeps up like that until you get the medicine in chapter 10 - then you can take three hits, not counting the armor. To say the least, almost all bosses here are nightmares. If anyone's looking for a haircut, give Super Hard a shot and you'll be bound to tear your hair out through sheer rage.

The game can be a massive challenge for any lone gamers, so if you're looking for any assistance, bring along a friend and run through with the Two Player Cooperative mode! A second Bionic Commando (named James Gapanese after an in-joke with the game's developers, who doesn't actually factor into the game's plot) can join alongside you and take on the Imperials as an army of two. Both players have their own lifebar and three lives each, and if either dies, they respawn almost instantly. Both players act independently of each other, and unlike other 2D co-op that requires both to stay on the screen at any given time, one player can go out on his own ahead of the other. The camera zooms out as the two move apart, and when it can't scale out any farther, a split-screen resizes the dimensions and keeps independent track of both players until they come close to each other again. While the nature of most stages is somewhat linear, it's nice to know that both players do not always have to stick together to cause carnage. The enemies are more numerous and the bosses more tenacious, sometimes altering their attack patterns to require that players work together, but this is nothing two hardened commandos cannot handle.

For friends who prefer to kick each other's asses rather than that of the computer, the Multiplayer mode provides carnage for up to four players over many different arenas, each formed differently with their own individual traps to mind. Multiplayer controls as the main game, with everyone having their own life meters and Bionic Arms. The basic premise is akin and structured similar to Super Smash Bros or, perhaps a better comparison, Small Arms: Put two to four fighters in an enclosed arena and blast the hell out of each other until blasting can no longer be done. Whosoever racks up a certain amount of frags before anyone else is the winner. Everyone has the Revolver on default, but all other weapons are available through power-ups that randomly appear into the arena. These weapons all have limited ammunition, but they do offer players a significant advantage; in particular, the Bazooka can potentially kill in a single hit. There are four different characters up to play, the latter three of which are unlocked over the course of playing the main game. Captain Spencer is naturally the default and best-balanced of the three gamers, offering no advantage or penalty. Super Joe obtains more ammunition when he snags a power-up and can potentially cause the most destruction, but as a trade-off, he takes less damage. Generalissimo Killt, now finally in an incarnation where he does more than get killed off by a certain mustachioed dictator, has the most health but causes the least damage, an ideal candidate for the defense-minded fighter. Finally, Gottfried Groeder is playable, and while he does not have his large orbs of multidirectional death, he does more damage per hit but obtains less ammunition from the power-ups.

All this firing and blasting is good for the violent soul, but there are times when you just want to get back to the basics and resort to good old-fashioned platform-jumping... or swinging, as the case may warrant. For the commando who just cannot absorb enough bittersweet challenge, there are over fifty Challenge Rooms to royally frustrate even the most patient of gamers. Challenge Rooms, initially unlocked by visiting all FSA Camps in the main game, can afterwards be accessed in the main menu. These are obstacle courses set in virtual reality that contain no enemies. Only your cool blue avatar exists against the crimson geography of the course. Your goal is to swing about to reach the goal line, with some stages requiring the obtainment of bullets (a nod to the NES game) before the goal can appear. In almost every room, spikes, pitfalls, and a determined time limit that usually increases with the difficulty of the course are all that prevents you from beating the course. What will ultimately decide whether or not you beat a room is determined solely by your own mental constitution. They start out easy and can sometimes fluctuate in difficulty, but the general rule is this: The higher the number, the more frustrating the course. Some of the later challenges can be tortuously difficult and will take the most precise arm-firing possible to clear. As if the fifty-six main challenges are not painful enough, hidden like the Yashichis and the weapon upgrades are seven Secret Challenges to be found in the stages of the main game. They are hidden for reasons similar to why the Ark of the Covenant was sealed away from the grasp of mortals. Most of these levels are tough, and my head has come close to shrinking, melting, and/or exploding by even glancing at them.

Bionic Commando Rearmed is essentially the same across all three platforms, although the Xbox 360 version has slightly longer loading times and a bit of screen tearing in certain segments. The PS3 version loads a bit quicker, and has one extra Challenge room to boot. The PC version has even more challenge rooms, added after its release, to compensate for its higher initial price ($15 versus $10 for the console versions.)

There is so much awesomeness in this remake. Even if the new 3D reimagining turns out to be crappy, we still have Bionic Command Rearmed and what it stands for: the spirit of old-school gaming, still alive and bursting with exuberance in the modern era of video games. It feels as new as it does familiar, contradicting its own qualities by meeting and perhaps raising the bar Capcom set with Mega Man: Powered Up. It's a remake, it's original, it's modern, it's classic, it's doable, it's challenging, it's fun, it's artistic, it's serious, it's hilarious, it's just too many goddamn things that convey the ultimate point: it rules.

Strangely, several months after the game was release, Grin published a patch which totally screwed with the game's difficulty levels. The Easy and Normal modes now totally omit the most difficult segments of the final level, you respawn close where you die, and lives are infinite. You also have more control over the arm, as you can begin swinging again after coming to a stop. Most of this was entirely unnecessary.

Capcom also released Bionic Commando Rearmed on mobile phone platforms. However, it's really just a slightly stripped down port of the NES game with some slightly enhanced graphics, some of the character art of Rearmed, and some severely awkward controls.

Bionic Commando Rearmed (Mobile)

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • GRIN AB

Publisher:

Creative Director:

  • Simun Viklund

Genre:

Themes:


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Comparison Screenshots


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Page 1:
Bionic Commando (Arcade)
Bionic Commando (NES)

Page 2:
Bionic Commando (Game Boy)
Bionic Commando: Elite Forces

Page 3:
Bionic Commando Rearmed

Page 4:
Bionic Commando (2009)

Page 5:
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2

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